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White House Backs Net Self-Governance Plan

Technology: It also asks organizers to seek broad consensus in decision-making.


The Clinton administration Tuesday tentatively endorsed a plan for transferring control of the Internet from the federal government to a nonprofit corporation based in Los Angeles, but asked its organizers to make some changes to elicit a broader consensus among backers of alternate proposals.

In particular, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration would like to see the proposed Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, adopt "an open membership structure" that reflects the inclusive nature of the global computer network, said Associate Administrator Becky Burr.

She also asked that ICANN establish a more "transparent" decision-making process, ensure that the ICANN leadership "reflects the geographic and functional diversity of the Internet community," and spell out the group's financial accountability to Internet users.

In June, the Commerce Department offered its own plan--widely known as the "White Paper"--for getting the government out of the increasingly commercial Internet business. Since then, a handful of private-sector groups have offered alternate proposals, but a broad consensus has yet to coalesce around any single plan.

The ICANN proposal came from Jon Postel, who headed the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority at USC's Information Sciences Institute in Marina del Rey. Postel died last week, but several people who will be involved in the continuing negotiations said they could still hammer out a final agreement reflecting the government's concerns.

Burr, who described the Clinton administration's position in a letter to Information Sciences Institute Executive Director Herbert Schorr, said the government wants the matter to be "completely resolved in the next couple of weeks."

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